Articulated into three thematic districts, Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, this is Expo 2020 Dubai, more than any other thing. A juxtaposition of architectural objects on a scale that we can define as urban, beyond any doubt. There are 192 pavilions hosting as many countries, about 30 special pavilions including 3 thematic ones, surrounding a monumental steel dome, a 13-meter high water feature and two parks, on a 438-hectare site.
Such polyphony is composed of structures that have been conceived mostly according to a universal “Expo” language, and mostly before the pandemic, with little room left for any redefinition after the great global changes of the last two years. Some trending design attitudes can be noticed for sure: the laboratory pavilions, experiential pavilions, “centerpiece” pavilions emphasizing narratives, and many others, with increasingly blurred distinction.
All taxonomic divertissements aside, some relevant topics are running through the Dubai event, giving structure and shape to different architectures: the outstanding statements made by those who wanted to provide a critical interpretation of the quite wide theme of this Expo (Connecting Minds, Creating the Future); the affirmation of global figures and teams, with international and intercultural profiles, as designers of several pavilions; a new attention for circular economic and building processes, with most of the pavilions designed to be later disassembled and reused almost all of their components.
With no intention to outline any unlikely best of, nor to give any complete account of Expo through a small bunch of architectures, we explore through a first selection some of the most relevant topics reaching us from Dubai, talking about 2021 and its widely evocated spirit of recovery.